The Relationship Between User Participation and User Satisfaction: An Investigation of Four Contingency Factors
User participation has been widely touted by the MIS community as a means to improve user satisfaction with systems development. This claim, however, has not been consistently substantiated in the empirical literature. In seeking to explain such equivocal results, the effects of four contingency factors - task complexity, system complexity, user influence, and user-developer communication - on the relationship between user participation and user satisfaction were investigated. As suggested in the literature, this research tests hypotheses that these specific contingency factors should aid in identifying situations where user participation would have a strong relationship with satisfaction. Analysis of 151 independent system development projects in eight different organizations indicated that user participation has a direct relationship with user satisfaction. In addition, the four contingency factors were found to play key roles on this relationship. Task complexity and system complexity proved to be pure motivators. That is, the strength of the participation-satisfaction relationship depended on the level of these factors. In projects where there was a high level of task complexity or system complexity, the relationship between user participation and user satisfaction was signifiantly stronger than in projects where task complexity or system complexity was low. User influence and user-developer communication were shown to be independent predictors of user satisfaction. That is, user influence or user-developer communication was positively related to user satisfaction regardless of the level of participation. The results help explain the relationship between user participation and user satisfaction by suggesting the nature of the relationship under different sets of conditions. The implications are relevant to system developers and to academicians seeking to explain how, when, why, and where user participation is needed.
|Author||James D. McKeen, Tor Guimaraes, and James Wetherbe|
|Keywords||User participation, contingency theory, user satisfaction, user-developer communication, systems complexity, task complexity, user influence|